Little and Often: Progress Report

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Somehow the end of February slid by without any mention here of my progress, or otherwise, towards the target I’ve set myself of walking 1000 miles this year, above and beyond the pottering about I do at home and at work. This wasn’t because I’d fallen behind; I didn’t quite match January’s total, it’s true, but with a little over 120 miles logged, I had much more than I need to reach my, admittedly arbitrary, target.

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These photographs are from one of my ‘little and often’ strolls. The day after our friends left us was once again wet, but it briefly brightened up in the afternoon, so I took my chance for a standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots.

These are the benches where I sometimes sit to watch the sun set, currently graced by an entourage of Daffodils.

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I’ve been enjoying a website, Other-Wordly, “about strange and lovely words” and one of the words which I hope will stick with me is smultronställe, a Swedish term,

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Maybe these benches are not wild enough, or private enough, to match that description, but otherwise they’re a perfect fit.

The rain may have paused for a while, but the evidence of it’s recent ubiquity was everywhere to see…

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Even on the Lots, which usually stay reasonably dry…

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By the time I came back through the village, the skies were leaden again, presaging the imminent arrival of more wet.

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Here’s my calendar for February, from Mapmywalk…

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By contrast, March looks a little spartan…

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..and it’s true that illness and general busyness did hamper my efforts somewhat. In fact, at one point, I did find myself bitterly contemplating the possibility of a blogpost entitled something along the lines of ‘Too Little, Less Often’, but despite my misgivings, I still just about crept over the required mileage for a month, so that’s okay then. In fact, as of today, I’ve just passed 400 miles for the year so far.

In a similar vein: last night I was updating my ‘Birkett Tick List‘ page, essentially a list of the hills in the Lake District which I’ve climbed since I started to write this blog, back in 2008. I was engrossed in the technicalities of editing the page – something I’ve had trouble with, which is why it was almost two years behind, but it was quite enlightening to look back at two years of walks and realise that in that time I’d actually climbed far more hills than I expected. At one point, A was looking over my shoulder and pointed out to me that the list has become quite a long one. And she’s right: without ever really applying myself, I do seem to have accumulated a fair few ascents. Now, admittedly, the Lakes are compact and it’s often possible to tick-off several hills in a single walk. And also, it’s taken me 10 years to build-up a substantial tally, but I still feel like this is another victory for the steady , softly-softly, tortoise (rather than hare) approach.

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Blea Tarn Hill – somewhere I might never have visited without Birkett’s list to encourage me. Not a lot of effort being expended here, but we actually managed to claim a fair number of summits that day.

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Little and Often: Progress Report

Such A Night

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The much reported snow and ice barely made it to this part of the West Coast, although when it did arrive it was oddly localised and, for example, Silverdale got quite a bit more snow than nearby Lancaster. These photos are from a quick walk on the Wednesday. We’d had one very heavy flurry of snow on the Tuesday evening and some more lighter falls thereafter and by Wednesday morning we had quite an accumulation. Not sufficient to keep us at home, sadly. The sun shone for much of the day and although it was cold, much of the snow had thawed by the time I got out for a late circuit around The Cove and The Lots.

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Redshanks.

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Inevitable Cove sunset.

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Ashmeadow House.

Later, I took A to Arnside for a piano lesson and had time for a short, and very chilly, stroll along the promenade and beside the River Kent.

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I should probably explain the convoluted way in which I arrived at the post’s inappropriate title: for the previous post which eventually ended up accompanied by ‘True Love Travels on a Gravel Road’, I also considered ‘Walk On Guilded Splinters’ and although I eventually rejected that choice, I then found myself listening to a few other Dr John songs, including, eventually, ‘Such A Night’….

Such A Night

Henry’s Pebble Art

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The day after our Garburn Pass outing. I had to wait in for a plumber (who embarrassingly, when he eventually turned up, spent about two minutes tightening a nut, or tightening something anyway, barely long enough to drink his cup of tea). But I digress: as I said, I had to be in for the plumber in the early afternoon. In the morning, it rained, but I steeled myself and went for a wander anyway, just around the local lanes. It wasn’t particularly pleasant; one of our friends even took pity on me and stopped his car to offer me a lift, but I enjoyed being out, cocooned in my waterproofs. Eventually, it even slacked off, and then dried up altogether.

Close to the Wolfhouse Gallery, I spotted a Tree-creeper, the first I’ve seen for a while. I even tried to take a photo, but with just the camera phone and the gloomy conditions and a very shy bird, that was always doomed to failure.

These Cyclamen…

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…flowering on the verge on Lindeth Road were a little more obliging.

By the time our boiler’s leak was fixed, the weather had changed dramatically. I still had time for a turn around Eaves Wood…

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow. Note the snow on the Bowland Fells.

Before heading down to the Cove, for once, timing it right to arrive shortly before the sunset.

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Recently, there always seem to have been much the same birds evident on the muddy beaches by the Cove. A group of Shelduck, as many as forty sometimes, but just a couple on this occasion. A large flock of Oystercatchers, sitting in a tight group, in the same spot each time, out along the stream which flows away from the Cove. And some small waders closer in shore, I assume Redshanks.

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This pebble art was on one of the benches on the cliff path above the Cove.

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I haven’t posted it to FB, because I’ve always hoped that my posts there are private and only accessible to my friends. So I’ve posted it here instead, where perhaps it won’t get the exposure which the obviously talented Henry deserves, but maybe, somehow or other, the images will find their way back to Henry. Feel free to pass them on in any way which you feel is appropriate.

 

Henry’s Pebble Art

Middlebarrow in Every Kind of Weather.

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“The forecast for tomorrow shows every kind of weather, what a cop out.”

This was A, on Saturday evening; she knows how much this symbol winds me up on a long range forecast, suggesting, as it does, some straddling of the fence from the meteorologists. Of course, it could also imply that the weather is destined to be very mixed. That’s exactly how Sunday turned out.

No ‘Listed Lancaster’ posts from last week, not because I didn’t get out for any lunchtime strolls – although I was restricted a little, it was a busy week – but because when I did get out the weather was always gloomy and not really ideal for photographs. I particularly enjoyed my walk on Wednesday, when we had snow, but even the photos I took then are  rather grim and monotone.

Saturday too was very wet, but it did finally brighten a little late on, and I abandoned the second half of Ireland’s cakewalk against Italy to make the most of it. Not much to show for it in terms of photos of views or leaves or sunsets etc, but every walk seems to throw up something, in this case a wet poster…

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Long-suffering readers will know that I have become quite interested in Thomas Mawson and his gardens, which have featured on this blog a number of times. I’m hoping that I will be free on the evening of this lecture. If not, there were plenty of other things to choose from: a talk on ‘Bees in Your Garden’, another on ‘Sweet Peas’ and a third on ‘An Underwater Safari in Morecambe Bay’, music at the regular ‘Bits and Pieces’ event at the Silverdale Hotel, the John Verity Band appearing soon at the same venue, and, at The Instititute, Lancaster Band The Meter Men, who play Hammond Organ infused funk and are, in my opinion, superb. And that’s just a small selection of the entertainment on offer, seen through the filter of my own interests. Silverdale it seems, like Stacy’s Mom, ‘has got it going on’.

Anyway, back to Sunday: I set off, as I often do, without a clear idea of where I was going. Initially though, I chose to climb to the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow, to take a look at the clouds racing past. I went via the Coronation path because I knew that would take me past the Snowdrops which featured at the top of the post.

From time to time, new paths seem to appear in Eaves Wood, a reflection, I suppose, of how many people regularly walk there. Whenever I walk past one, I wonder where it goes and resolve that, next time I’m out, I’ll find out. On Saturday I finally acted on that impulse. The first path I followed cut a corner between two paths which I know well. Even so, I felt very pleased to have taken it and I’ve been back and walked it again since.

From Castlebarrow I followed the path along the northern edge of Eaves Wood, beside the wall which marks the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria. I met a couple walking their dog, who emerged from the trees at the side of the path. Looking back from where they’d come I thought I could detect the thinnest of thin trods, a hint of a path. Naturally, I followed it and it brought me to a drystone wall, in a spot where an old ants’ nest against the wall made it easy to scramble over. It was evident that people had climbed the wall here. I could see that just beyond the wall was the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry…

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Silverdale Moss, Scout Hill and Farleton Fell from Middlebarrow.

The quarry is huge, but is well concealed from most directions. Again, I thought I could see a path heading along the edge of the quarry. In all the years I’ve been here I’ve never walked around it. It is private land, but it’s not a working quarry anymore and I can’t see what harm could be done by wandering around. So I did.

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Middlebarrow pano. Click on it to see enlarged version.

The path turned out to be a bit sketchy in places. And it was easy to lose where there was limestone pavement…

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Some of the pavements were coated in moss, others had grass growing over them, which made it hard to see the grykes.

True to form, the weather threw everything at me: rain, sleet, hail, but odd moments of sunshine too.

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There’s a ninety metre contour somewhere around the rim of the quarry, making it the highest point on the limestone hill on which Eaves Wood sits. It’s certainly a good view point for Silverdale Moss and I shall be back here again.

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Whitbarrow catching the sun.

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I took this photo in an attempt to show the heavy snow which was falling. You’ll have to take my word for it.

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And this one to show the state of many of the paths after the wet weather we’ve endured.

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By the time I was leaving the woods, the snow had stopped again.

I timed my walk to arrive back to watch England squeak past Wales in the rugby by the finest of margins.

Then I was out again. Since it was still cloudy, and I knew I was too late for the sunset, I only took my ‘new’ phone with me and not my camera.

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I never learn!

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The colours were subtle, pastel shades, but very pleasant none-the-less.

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Always good to finish a day (and a post) with a colourful sunset, if you can.

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Middlebarrow in Every Kind of Weather.

Heart-shaped Trots

Bottoms Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove

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Bottoms Lane Lime Kiln.

Years ago, when I first started this blog in fact, I used to read a blog called Cynthesis, now sadly defunct, in which Cynthia (see what she did there?) often posted photos of heart-shaped things she had found whilst out and about – leaves, stones, the cross-sections of logs, puddles, clouds, shadows, you name it – which were heart-shaped. I was struck by the frequency of her discoveries and a little disappointed when I failed to turn up any similar treasures.

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Bottoms Farm.

It gives me a curious sense of satisfaction then, that this walk, one I’ve repeated many times recently in my attempts to chip away at my 1000 mile target, makes a pretty good heart-shape on the route map that the MapMyWalk App produces.

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Snowdrops!

Snowdrops seem to be everywhere this week. I’ve tried several times to photograph them with my phone. I can’t decide whether my lack of success is user error, the lack of a decent close-up facility or the gloomy light which has prevailed.

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Grey Stones (I think).

I should point out, that at no point on this walk did I break into a trot. Far from it, quite the opposite in fact, I was feeling under the weather and had been off work the day before with severe pain and stiffness in my shoulder and a temperature which I assumed was the beginnings of flu. Fortunately, both cleared up much quicker than I expected.

On Saturday morning we had all three kids in three different places, Little S was on his last outing with Cubs before moving up to Scouts, a trip to the dry-ski slope in Rossendale. A was attending Royal Institution Master Classes in Mathematics at Lancaster Uni and B was having his first lesson in Brazilian Ju-jitsu. We’d been making hasty contingency plans, since it didn’t seem like I would be in any fit state to do any of the driving, but in the event TBH took S and some of his peers to the West Pennine Moors  and, doped up on painkillers,  I managed the shorter journey with the other two.

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Crinkle Cottage.

If anything the trip out seemed to do me some good and in the afternoon I felt up to a short turn around the village. I decided to stick to the lanes, due to the sorry state of the paths and used the opportunity to take some pictures of many features and buildings which I often walk past, but which never usually make it on to the blog.

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Pillars at the entrance to Spring Bank.

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I’m always tickled by these pillars which look to me like they ought to have something on top of them, a statue or a stone pineapple to somesuch. I don’t know whether they ever did have.

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I do like an ornate wooden porch…

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I was feeling in such fine fettle when I reached the village centre that I decided to extend my walk slightly by including the Lots and the Cove.

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As to the post title: I’ve recently revived an old habit of stealing song titles for my posts (don’t know if you noticed?) and this one is an excruciating pun on Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ which has always been one of my favourite songs of their’s and which has been stuck in my head a lot recently because I’ve been listening to Hackney Colliery Band’s cover version…

Heart-shaped Trots

When Saturday Comes

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Hawes Water.

All week, the forecast was generally for pretty poor weather and usually proved to be accurate. But scanning through the icons for the days ahead, Saturday stood out. Sunshine predicted and lots of it; something to look forward to. Then, towards the end of the week, a dreaded downgrade, and now Saturday would be cloudy, but still with the prospect of some sunny spells. Except, when Saturday actually arrived, the much anticipated decent weather didn’t appear in tandem. It was raining again.

Towards the end of the afternoon, things began to brighten a little. TBH and I decided to take a punt and get out while the getting was good. We walked through Eaves Wood to Hawes Water, stopping when we met a friend from the village, to bemoan the weather and the exceptionally muddy state of the paths: every step was a squelch, or a slop, or a splatter, or a slither, or a splash. Conditions which TBH, a native of County Durham, describes as ‘clarty’.

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Large ‘puddle’ in a field by The Row.

Then, quite suddenly, a few odd patches of blue clubbed together and somewhat surprisingly we had clear skies. Presumably, this was the clear spell which had originally been expected to arrive a little earlier.

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Late mist.

We stopped again on The Row for a longer chat with another friend and former neighbour. He was advocating early retirement and wild-camping (i.e. roadside) in a camper-van, not that I need much persuading on either count.

It was already well past sunset by the time we got home. TBH wanted a cup of tea and had marking to get on with; I couldn’t resist the light and took a short turn around The Cove and The Lots to round off the walk.

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It was a bit darker than this picture suggests. I spoke briefly to a couple who told me that they had been ‘getting high’ on the light and the colours in the sky. And why not.

When Saturday Comes

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

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After a flurry of ‘Little and Often’ posts last spring, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve been increasingly quiet about my fitness drive. I kept it going through the dark days of winter and it was easy to do in the spring and the early summer, but then….I’m not even really sure when exactly it fizzled out, but it did, as these things are wont to do, at least where I’m concerned anyway.

I’m still feeling the benefits though and the New Year feels like an appropriate time to get cracking again, even though I don’t generally make resolutions.

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Part of the impetus is my ‘new’ phone and the MapMyWalk App (I’m sure lots of similar products are available). Last Spring I flirted with the idea of having a crack at a ‘walk 1000 miles in the year’ challenge, this year I’m going to get on and do it. Judging by the plethora of websites which offer to help and encourage you to do just that, I must be one among many.

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These photos were taken on some of the many local rambles which kick-started my progress whilst I was still off work. The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least, there was no flooding, but paths were about as muddy as I can remember seeing them and walking across the fields involved an uncomfortable amount of slithering, squelching and slipping. One day in Eaves Wood I lost my footing completely and fell rather heavily, fortunately without any lasting consequences.

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I tended not to venture particularly far, heading out several times each day rather than aiming for a single long walk. There were numerous trips to the Cove and Eaves Wood as well as a solitary wander around Hawes Water.

On New Year’s Day, whilst A was out for a Penny Walk with her friend, the rest of the family took part in a South Ribble Orienteering Club event. It was a score event, rather than following a course it was just a case of finding as many controls as possible in an hour. Great fun.

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Later in the week, A and B joined me for an Eaves Wood jaunt.

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An aside – this hole in a limestone pavement has been the source of an ongoing family dispute: until recently the top was blocked off with a number of branches. Little S and I contended that it wasn’t that deep a hole – about B’s height we maintained. B was adamant that it was much deeper. He looks chuffed here because, now that the covering branches are gone, it’s evident that he was right.

One day, our friend X-Ray came over and Little S and I took him out for a stroll around Eaves Wood and across The Lots. S was searching for holocrons using his Stars Wars Force Band, so he was happy. (No, I don’t understand what I just wrote either). It was very windy and a bit grim, but as we reached The Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow we had some brief moments of extraordinary light.

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After his walk, X-Ray stopped on for a vegan curry and a few games, including Camel Cup and King Domino. Hopefully, we’ll do something similar again soon.

The tides were high all week. I think that the water was already receding here…

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…and that the sea had actually been into the smelly cave at the Cove.

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These photos were all taken with my phone. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my camera, but with unpredictability of the weather, it was easy just to stick the phone in my back pocket, where I wanted it anyway to clock my mileage, and use it for photos when opportunities arose.

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It’s much less faff uploading the photos too.

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A thousand miles is a fairly arbitrary target, I know, but it gives me something to aim for. To be honest, at the moment I’m just enjoying watching the distance steadily accumulating.

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Some rules: I’m on my feet most of the day at work, but that’s walking I would do anyway. None of that counts. Nor pottering about the house or garden. Walking to the Co-op however, rather than taking the car, is fair game.

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I haven’t decided yet whether any ‘travel’ done under my own steam counts, so that swimming, cycling, skateboarding, canoeing etcetera would add to the total or not.

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Somewhere during the week, we squeezed in visits to the climbing wall in Lancaster and also to see Aladdin at the Dukes with some of our friends from the village (hello Dr R!).

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Another aside: I noticed, down at The Cove, that the seasonal springs, which rise amongst the rocks on the bottom left of the picture below…

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…are now supplemented by, or perhaps have partially moved to, those two large greenish hollows on the bottom right of the photo. You can see that a fairly substantial stream out across the mud has been established. It’s been there a while, I’ve been enjoying the foreground it provides for my sunset photos…

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A low key sunset on a very still evening, which was very restful, but I think I may have said much the same thing only a few posts ago.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year